Riding Horses - Safety First
No matter how well trained your horse may be there are always little things that can spook or startle a horse, causing him to jump sidewise, stop suddenly or even take off running. Knowing what bothers your horse is important, as you can be alert and watchful of any potential problems while you are out.
f you have a horse that is a known to shy or startle, it is important to be sure that they are as calm as possible before starting out on a ride. Using a longe line to work the horse for 20 minutes or so before riding will help take the edge off, plus it will help your horse work with your when you get on its back. A horse that trusts its rider is much less likely to over-react to a sudden noise or a bird flying out of the bush ahead.
A good idea is to start introducing new things to your horse in training, this helps them to understand that while you are around they have nothing to fear.
Aside from watching for blowing objects, flapping flags and weird shaped objects that may be new to your horse, as the rider you also have to stay in control of the horse. Always maintain contact with the bit through the reins, don't ever drop the reins or hang them over the saddle, this is really dangerous as if the horse bolts you will have no way to calm and steady the horse.
Also, don't allow the reins to become so loose that you cannot, with a gentle movement, apply pressure to the bit to control the horse. If your horse does become spooked or seems hesitant to go forward, stop the horse and allow them to become familiar with the object that is bothering him. Talk calmly to the horse and even cue him to back away and then approach the object from a different direction. You may also want to dismount and lead the horse past the object, allowing them to smell and look at it. When you return, allow the horse to walk past at a distance, soon they will accept the object or area without hesitation. Never try to run a horse past an object they are frightened of as this will establish a really dangerous habit.
Avoid any types of stunt riding with your horse unless you are in a training arena with someone that knows what they are doing. Riding side saddle, sliding off the back of the saddle or even trying to stand up in the saddle are simply accidents looking for a place to happen. You should also avoid your friends or fellows if they tend to engage in these types of activities as they are likely to cause problems for you and your horse through their actions.
Another consideration that a responsible rider will make is to avoid specific things that they know are upsetting or frightening to the horse until they have had a chance to desensitize the horse. For example, if the horse is afraid of vehicles, avoid riding them beside roadways, especially those with heavy traffic. If the horse is particularly excited in stormy weather, postpone your ride or do some work inside in a covered arena.
Susanne Malloy is an avid equestrian and an editor for [http://www.englishsaddleshop.com] , your complete resource for new and used English saddles [http://www.englishsaddleshop.com], riding apparel, and tack.
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